Finley neighbors decry pastor's killing of dog

By Paula Horton, Herald staff writerAugust 27, 2010 

FINLEY — A rural Finley neighborhood is crying foul after a homeowner cut the throat of a puppy that was attacking his chickens.

Christy Rose admits her two 6-month-old Siberian huskies were on David Rea's property after getting loose Saturday, but she's upset about the way Rea handled the situation.

She said Jack's throat appeared to have been slashed three times.

"He was a baby," said Rose, 34. "There are other ways to deal with it besides death."

Rea, who lives at the start of Tierney Road, said he's "very, very sorry," but he had no choice except to kill Rose's dog when he found it in his chicken pen killing livestock.

"Until you're in there fighting a dog, you don't know what to do," said Rea, pastor of Tri-Cities Baptist Church. "You can't even imagine. It's a horribly bad deal."

It's not the first time Rea has been at odds with his neighbors over killing a dog.

On New Year's Eve, he shot a 10-year-old black Labrador that cut across the corner of his property while walking off-leash with her owner, Bob Fortman.

Charo was about 100 feet away from Fortman when Rea shot her. Rea told the Herald at the time that he had been having problems with stray dogs getting into his garbage and growling at his kids and didn't realize Charo was a neighbor's dog.

Charo was hit in both hind legs, shattering her right tibia and left femur and had to be euthanized.

Fortman's wife, JoAnn, said Thursday that Rea apologized to them and she was working on forgiving him, but was speechless after hearing he not only killed another dog, but also about the way he killed Jack.

"It was so gruesome," she said. "He claims to be a man of God, but I don't understand that. Men of God don't do cruel things like that."

Rea defends himself by saying he was protecting his animals.

"I'm very compassionate toward animals. I was trying to save my chickens. They're animals too," Rea said, adding the chickens come running when it's feeding time, just like dogs. "If it was me, I would be absolutely ashamed if my dog went onto somebody's property and killed livestock."

Rose, who lives a few houses down the private dirt road from Rea's house, said she tied up Jack and his brother, Demon, outside around 3:30 or 4 p.m. Saturday before running to the store. Around 5:30 p.m. she got a call from a neighbor telling her the dogs had gotten loose.

She immediately left the store and got home about 30 minutes later and found Demon had been corralled by a neighbor but Jack still was missing. That's when she found a hand-written note on her door from Rea that said her dog killed 12 laying hens and she should "keep them penned up if you care."

Rose went to Rea's house and asked where her dog was and he told her, "Your puppy's no more. He's dead," she said.

"I was completely dumbfounded," Rose said. "I asked if he couldn't think of another way to deal with a puppy and he said, 'No. It was in a frenzy and kept killing chickens.' He said, 'No, I did what I had to do.' "

Rose said her children, Jared, 10, and Vanessa, 6, are devastated and Vanessa's afraid to go to the bus stop, which is in front of Rea's house.

Rea said he apologized to Rose and talked to the children, but his children also are traumatized and suffering from what happened.

"We're sorry they lost their dog, but my little boy has cried for days," said Rea's wife, Cherri. "They don't see the damage that's on this end."

David Rea said his children were outside Saturday and started screaming and crying that the chickens were dying. He said he saw the dog without a collar in the chicken coop and tried to corner it, but couldn't keep the dog from killing the chickens.

Twelve chickens have died since Saturday from internal injuries after being mauled, he said.

"It was a horrible deal," he said. "It was absolutely horrible."

He said four adult neighbors stood and watched the dog in the chicken pen, but none stepped in and tried to help.

"If I had those neighbors standing there helping me, the dog probably would be OK," Rea said.

Rea said there's a problem with dogs running loose in the area and said there have been incidents where a boy was attacked by a "beloved family pet" on the same road, and a neighbor who lives up the road also had been attacked by a dog.

He also looked up the American Kennel Club standard for a Siberian husky and it shows that while the dogs are normally affectionate and docile with people, "they have a strong hunting drive and will kill cats, rabbits, chickens, squirrels and other birds and small animals."

It also says Siberians have to be kept in secure enclosures because they will "often disappear on long hunting trips; they cannot be allowed to run loose."

"I don't want to hurt animals. I don't want to hurt people's pets," Rea said. "But there is a problem when the dog's killing chickens."

Neighbors, however, say the problem is with Rea. They call his actions out of line and say they fear for their family pets.

"It's just a horrible feeling to have that thought that my dog could get out ..." John Schoenberg said, trailing off as he looked at two of his four dogs sleeping on his lap. He lives two doors down. "I don't want to deal with that."

JoAnn Fortman said she knows Rea has a right to protect his property, but the problem is with the way he's done it.

"I tried to find forgiveness but he's just caused so much pain and heartache and it just keeps getting worse," she said. "I've worked really hard to forgive him and now I just want him gone. Enough is enough."

When Fortman's dog was shot in January, a Benton County sheriff's official said a rural property owner has the right to shoot a dog that is on his property if he thinks he's being threatened or his family, pets or livestock are being threatened by it.

Sheriff's Capt. Steve Keane said Thursday that he'll review the incident and likely talk to prosecutors to determine if the manner in which the dog was killed this time falls within the law.